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Mol Plant Pathol. 2018 Feb;19(2):440-453. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12536. Epub 2017 Mar 15.

Fusaric acid contributes to virulence of Fusarium oxysporum on plant and mammalian hosts.

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Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus de Excelencia Agroalimentario (ceiA3), Córdoba, E-14071, Spain.
Department for Agrobiotechnology (IFA-Tulln), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Konrad Lorenz Str. 20, Tulln, 3430, Austria.
Mycology Unit, Medical School, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, IISPV, Reus, 43204, Spain.


Fusaric acid (FA) is amongst the oldest identified secondary metabolites produced by Fusarium species, known for a long time to display strong phytotoxicity and moderate toxicity to animal cells; however, the cellular targets of FA and its function in fungal pathogenicity remain unknown. Here, we investigated the role of FA in Fusarium oxysporum, a soil-borne cross-kingdom pathogen that causes vascular wilt on more than 100 plant species and opportunistic infections in humans. Targeted deletion of fub1, encoding a predicted orthologue of the polyketide synthase involved in FA biosynthesis in F. verticillioides and F. fujikuroi, abolished the production of FA and its derivatives in F. oxysporum. We further showed that the expression of fub1 was positively controlled by the master regulator of secondary metabolism LaeA and the alkaline pH regulator PacC through the modulation of chromatin accessibility at the fub1 locus. FA exhibited strong phytotoxicity on tomato plants, which was rescued by the exogenous supply of copper, iron or zinc, suggesting a possible function of FA as a chelating agent of these metal ions. Importantly, the severity of vascular wilt symptoms on tomato plants and the mortality of immunosuppressed mice were significantly reduced in fub1Δ mutants and fully restored in the complemented strains. Collectively, these results provide new insights into the regulation and mode of action of FA, as well as on the function of this phytotoxin during the infection process of F. oxysporum.


Fusarium oxysporum; fungal pathogenicity; fusaric acid; metal chelation; mycotoxins; phytotoxicity; virulence


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